The Powers of Cultivated Cordyceps

The Powers of Cultivated Cordyceps

When "The Last of Us" video game was developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment [1], we got a whole new perspective on how fungi can interact with us!

Cordyceps have long been known as a type of "zombie mushroom" due to their ability to take over the bodies of insects and control their behavior. However, in recent years, cordyceps have been cultivated on a large scale and are now widely available as a dietary supplement. Despite this, there are still some misconceptions about cordyceps, including the idea that they are not vegan. In this article, we'll explore the truth about cultivated cordyceps and dispel some of the myths surrounding this fascinating fungus.

First and foremost, it's important to understand that cultivated cordyceps are not the same as the wild, insect-killing variety. Cultivated cordyceps are grown in a controlled environment using a substrate such as rice or oats, and do not require the presence of an insect host.[2] While they may look similar to wild cordyceps, they are a completely different species and do not possess the same insect-killing properties.

Despite this, some people still believe that cultivated cordyceps are not vegan because they are grown using a substrate that may contain animal products. However, this is not necessarily the case. Many cordyceps supplements are grown on a vegan substrate, such as rice bran or soybean powder, and are completely animal-free.[3]

In fact, many vegans have embraced cordyceps as a plant-based alternative to traditional medicinal mushrooms such as reishi and chaga. Cordyceps are rich in beta-glucans, which are a type of soluble fiber that has been found to have a variety of health benefits, including immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory effects.[4]

So, to sum up, cultivated cordyceps are not zombie mushrooms and are perfectly safe and vegan-friendly. In fact, they may even offer a range of health benefits that make them a valuable addition to a plant-based diet. So the next time someone tries to tell you that cordyceps are not vegan, you can confidently set the record straight.


  1. Naughty Dog. (2013). The Last of Us. Sony Computer Entertainment.
  2. Lai, C.-K., & Wong, K.-H. (2012). Cordyceps as an herbal drug. In H.-W. Rui, L.-T. Li, & H.-Z. Liang (Eds.), Bioactive Compounds in Phytomedicine (pp. 313–325). Springer.
  3. Wang, D., Zhang, J., Bai, H., Ning, K., & Liang, Z. (2018). Strategies for optimizing polysaccharides extraction from Cordyceps sinensis by response surface methodology and evaluating its anti-oxidant activities in vivo and in vitro. Scientific Reports, 8(1), 16112.
  4. Zhu, J.-S., Halpern, G. M., & Jones, K. (1998). The scientific rediscovery of an ancient Chinese herbal medicine: Cordyceps sinensis: Part I. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 4(3), 289–303.
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